The Importance of People & Dave Chappelle’s Block Party

NYC-0520

For those of you who have moved to a another city for the first time, you will understand this inescapable truth: at some point you will eventually get in a wrong bus, and you will notice that you have made a big mistake in choosing that particular route. And you have to get off before you wanted. And there you are, in a place where you have never been before, with 6 groceries bags in your hand, alone in this city. Right?

Well, good things happen out of bad things, and NYC teaches you in the hardest of ways.

Do you know when you get to a place that you recognize from a photo, or a movie, or a description in a book, and you weren’t expecting? The bus doors closed and I looked right and I saw what seemed a dead end. I deviated my way once more. In that street there was no one there. That was something remarkable in those first three weeks in New York City.

Eight years ago I heard about how Dave Chappelle organized a block party in Brooklyn. He invited artists like: Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Roots, The Fugees, Kanye West, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli, among others. And this was the place! And it made me think about these curious urban experiences. Specifically how reality is so much different depending on people. We can say that cities are made of buildings and streets, and benches and traffic lights, but we don’t think about it as being a organic matter altogether, where people and objects, surfaces, sounds, smells, meet. The experience of going there after watching the documentary is astonishing.

Right next to the intersection of Downing and Quincy street is the so called “Broken Angel House”. This was one of the places that I was really looking forward visiting once I arrived in the city. The house was once owned by a couple of artists who, during years, changed it into something quite particular, creating their little private world within their residence. Cynthia got cancer and died sometime after. Arthur remained there but had to leave the house because of foreclosure. Now it’s abandoned, but once it was alive.

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